Is Ghosting the “new normal”? It doesn’t have to be!

“The practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”

If this textbook definition of ‘ghosting’ reminded you of one of your relationships, don’t worry, you are not alone.

‘Candidate ghosting,’ however, is a slightly different prospect.

Candidate ghosting is an age-old problem that has haunted recruiters and candidates alike for years. So what has changed now?

With the advent of the internet, all of us have become accessible at all times. We all have different lines of communication, and sometimes being connected all the time has become overwhelming. Ironically, so many ways of communicating have resulted in a serious lack of communication.

It is, therefore, of no surprise that with more technology, Ghosting is also quickly becoming the new normal.

What is Ghosting? And what it is not?

What is employee ghosting?

Whenever the candidate or the recruiter suddenly stops communicating midway through the hiring process, it is an incident of Ghosting.

So, if you are a candidate who never heard back after an interview. Or if you are a recruiter who never received the resume that the candidate was ‘just going to send,’ chances are you have been ghosted.

However, a lot of times, the simple end of a conversation is confused with Ghosting.

What is not employee ghosting?

For example, if you are trying to connect with a candidate for the first time and he or she is not replying to your mails. Or if you are a candidate who has been clearly rejected from a process but you are still trying to contact the recruiter, these cases don’t include Ghosting. It is simply the end of a conversation.

One-way conversations are not ghosting, and there is no social compulsion that the other party needs to reply to.

Why do candidates ghost?

Why do people ghost?

The answer to this complex question lies in the simple ‘natural response’. The human brain is developed in a way that makes us want to go from pain to pleasure. So essentially, when anyone (the recruiter or the candidate) believes that he or she will have to confront a difficult situation or conversation, he or she likes to avoid it.

Sometimes though, the answer is even more straightforward than the natural evolution of the human mind. Sometimes people just forget about responding. And believe it or not, at times, recruiters don’t have the authority to say a definite yes or no to a candidate. Processes being notoriously long is another fact, especially when it comes to enterprises.

Even with all these reasons, one thing is for sure - Avoiding dirty laundry won’t lead to automatic cleaning of your clothes. So how do we not avoid the cleaning, how do we avoid ‘ghosting’?

How to avoid Ghosting?

tips to avoid ghosting

For recruiters and candidates alike, the key to minimizing Ghosting is to understand our subconscious mind. The more mindful we are of our tendency to run from uncomfortable situations, the better we would be at confronting them.

One of the offenses that we recruiters are especially guilty of is overcommitment. Especially, in tough times during these, even with the best of intentions in our hearts, we often tend to overcommit. We need to understand that not only overcommitting puts the organizations and us that we work for in a false position, but it can also hamper the candidate’s progression of looking out for other opportunities. ‌

Not only should recruiters commit reasonably, but we should also set up clear timelines on our next steps to avoid confusion. Maximum transparency, both in terms of the process as well as accountability, can go a long way in minimizing Ghosting.

Even after taking all the above precautions, there is always a chance that the recruiters and the candidates won’t receive a response to their communications. To avoid it becoming more awkward, it is always better to present an ‘exit’ in your communications. For ex: an ‘If I don’t receive a reply to this email by the end of the week, I will assume that you are not interested.’ can kill ‘ghosting’ even before it appears.

In Conclusion

Candidate ghosting is a problem that will continue to haunt recruiters and candidates alike. Having empathy with each other, understanding our subconscious biases, and taking the high road whenever possible can help us in limiting the ‘ghost’ to personal relationships.

The above article is based on our recent webinar. To watch the video in full visit: https://resources.skillate.com/en-us/employee-ghosting


The webinar also consisted of several interesting Q&As between Amy and the audience. Here are a few of them:

Q. Hi Amy, it's about my friend. She got an offer from a reputed firm, and her joining date is 13th of Apr, but she got an email two days ago and the deferred from their commitment. And now they are not picking up my friend's phone calls neither they are answering her. She is jobless right now. How should my friend react to this?

A-  The best thing your friend can do is simply move on. It's really unfortunate that this happened but could be an indicator the role or company has been impacted by recent events. Really sorry to hear about this! Your friend should immediately start networking / pursuing new opportunities.

Q. Hi Amy, why do companies ghost a potential candidate. After all the interviews, I was waiting for the offer letter, and then the company stopped responding. Why this happens if I have cleared all interviews?

A- Priorities can change rapidly – a role may have been put on hold or filled internally, there's any number of reasons they decided not to move forward. However, SOMETHING should be mentioned to the candidate to provide closure! It's probably nothing to do with your candidacy and something else outside of the recruiter's authority. That said, it would be nice if they told you SOMETHING, even if it means an offer is not coming right now.

Q. Any suggestion for the case, where we are not in a position to provide the actual feedback so as to avoid ghosting?

A- Transparency is the key here – if you know you can't (due to policy, or whatever) provide feedback, letting a candidate know that at the beginning of your relationship can avoid disappointment and surprise later on at the end of the process!

Q. Maybe if we just automate the feedback process, it reduces the emotional part?

A - It could – but it also could hurt the relationship. Even if the person isn't a fit right now (whether or not we can provide feedback) if we've never spoken or haven't built rapport, they may not want to take my call for the next role that opens up!

Q. But why is it hard not to ghost? Because we want to avoid confrontation? But that is something very important right, so if you want to be good as a recruiter, you should deal with did!

A- Agreed! It's still a hard, emotional conversation, though, and as we talked about on the webinar, sometimes people are too uncomfortable just to make the call. BUT – good recruiters should recognize this is an integral part of the job and do the right thing, even when it's uncomfortable.

Q. A lot of times, we do not get an update from the hiring panel. And for candidates, I am the POC. What do we do in situations like this?

A- This can be tricky because we do want to provide as much information/insights as we can. This is similar to not being ABLE to provide feedback – it's as simple as just providing closure, I'm sorry I can't give you specific feedback, but the outcome is (whatever it is). I hope that helps!

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